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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The future of MIT education looks more global, modular, and flexible

"Final report of Institute-wide Task Force offers 16 recommendations to help MIT evolve for a new world." continues MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


The MIT education of the future is likely to be more global in its orientation and engagement, more modular and flexible in its offerings, and more open to experiments with new modes of learning.
Those are some themes of the 16 recommendations contained in the final report of the Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education, convened 18 months ago by President L. Rafael Reif to envision the MIT of 2020 and beyond.

Reif released the Task Force’s final report today with a letter to the MIT community, saying the occasion “marks the beginning of an exciting new period of educational experimentation at MIT.” The report’s recommendations aim to lay the groundwork for MIT to reinvent education for future generations of learners both on its campus and beyond.
“The past few years have brought mounting evidence that higher education stands at a crossroads,” Reif wrote. “As with any disruptive technology, MOOCs have been viewed with enthusiasm in many quarters and skepticism in some. However, the underlying facts are inarguable: that the rising cost of education, combined with the transformative potential of online teaching and learning technologies, presents a long-term challenge that no university can afford to ignore.”
“At MIT, we are choosing to meet this challenge directly by assessing the educational model that has served the Institute so well for so long,” Reif added. “We are experimenting boldly with ideas to enhance the education we offer our own students and to lower the barriers to access for learners around the world.”
Among other priorities, the Task Force’s report urges the establishment of an MIT Initiative for Educational Innovation, to foster ongoing experimentation and research in teaching and learning, and recommends that MIT engage with teachers and learners worldwide to broadcast this educational innovation well beyond its own campus.

In its final report, the Task Force organizes its 16 recommendations around four themes:
  • laying a foundation for the future, by creating a proposed Initiative for Educational Innovation;
  • transforming pedagogy, largely through “bold experiments” sponsored by the proposed new initiative;
  • extending MIT’s educational impact, to teachers and learners well beyond its own campus; and
  • enabling the future of MIT education, by cultivating new revenue streams and envisioning new spaces to support learning at MIT.
The Task Force’s recommendations on pedagogical innovation also suggest that MIT:
  • look to its four existing freshman learning communities — the Experimental Study Group, Concourse, Media Arts and Sciences, and Terrascope — as possible models for further experimentation in the value of smaller communities of students in fostering learning;
  • use online and blended learning to strengthen teaching of communications, which the Task Force notes is an area in which MIT lags behind peer institutions;
  • create an Undergraduate Service Opportunities Program, mirroring the well-established Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, to encourage students to work on serious issues that challenge society; and
  • explore online and blending learning models to improve access to the graduate curriculum — including the availability of online, on-demand modules for students wishing to access discrete areas of knowledge.
To support the future of MIT education, the Task Force also recommends that MIT:
  • examine further revenue opportunities in technology licensing and venture funding;
  • expand fundraising activities to embrace a broader MIT community, possibly including former postdocs, executive education students, and MITx learners;
  • establish a working group to bring together members of the community to envision, plan, and create new spaces in support of future MIT education; and
  • bolster infrastructure for executive and professional education to engage more faculty and reduce barriers to offering such programs.
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Source: MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology 


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